Prius Personal Log  #701

March 20, 2015  -  March 28, 2015

 Last Updated: Tues. 6/27/2017

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3-28-2015

Cold Starts.  This type of misleading gets annoying: "My beef, as it were, with people who ask if EVs are "cleaner" than ICE vehicles is that they should first talk about criteria pollutants and should not use terms like *clean* or *dirty* when discussing emissions.  As you point out, there isn't anything particularly dirty about CO2 or similar gases.  It's also why the Volt is far "cleaner" than a Prius or a PIP.  Criteria pollutants are released on a cold start.  Once the cat-converter warms up they are largely eliminated.  Hence the goal is to reduce or eliminate cold starts.  The Volt 1.0 eliminated 80% of all cold starts.  The Volt 2.0 is designed to hopefully eliminate 90%."  Over and over again, this particular individual has been told the PIP (the plug-in Prius) doesn't have cold starts.  Yet, he continues to claim it does anyway.  This is the same person who still proclaims the "vastly superior" trophy.  So, it isn't worth actually responding.  However, I can post detail here.  The depletion point for PIP is 23.5% battery-capacity remaining.  At that point, the EV driving ends and the engine starts.  But rather than the "cold" he claims, the engine runs in a protected state.  That reduced burden reduces emissions.  In other words, engine alone is not relied upon for power.  Much of that is still provided by electricity.  For ordinary warm-up, the state-of-charge level will drop to about 20.3%.  In the circumstance of a hard-acceleration, it will drop to as much as 18.4%.  Put another way, the battery is used to prevent engine from revving beyond 1500 RPM.  And once warmed up (coolant to 130°F), the engine will run to replace the consumed electricity, so you always have a buffer available.  That restoration level is typically 26.6%.  Long story short, there are no cold starts for PHV.

3-26-2015

The Post.  My opportunity to sound off, after waiting for others to chime in, had come:  I've been pushing FULL hybrids for 15 years.  Since the beginning, it was always about getting something clean, efficient, and affordable for the masses.  That meant a practical vehicle which didn't compromise to emphasize any particular trait.  In other words, it would be an ordinary part of the crowd, an everyday vehicle you'd see everywhere.  Prius fit that criteria extremely well.  So, whenever someone passionately liked something else, they'd assume I was fighting against them.  It was unheard of back then to endorse multiple automakers.  If I was pro-Toyota, in there mind, it was impossible to be anything else.  That's clearly not the case.  My friends who own Leaf, Volt, and Tesla know that well.  Some on this forum though and elsewhere still don't believe that though.  Because I want a vehicle for the mainstream, they take great offense to words casting their preference as a niche... rather than just acknowledging a clean, efficient, and affordable also.  That's why I pushed so hard on GM. I couldn't care less what happened to Volt.  And I was constantly misrepresented as trying to kill it.  Thankfully now, it's becoming easier to see that I was pushed for diversification.  A niche is fine as long as there's also a choice for the ordinary consumer... hence having mentioned Malibu literally thousands of times and pointing out how it was the true competition for Volt, not Prius.  Those losses on the showroom floor will be very, very difficult to deny now. GM's own customers weren't interested... which is why there was so much attention brought to conquest sales from former Prius owners... which cannibalized the market, rather than expand.  That missed opportunity has been acknowledged, finally.  I'll admit, it is very nice having been correct all along, but there's not really much to take credit for.  The economics were pretty basic.  GM's production of traditional vehicles didn't change when Two-Mode or Volt or BAS were rolled out.  They never captured any sales beyond just special interest.  Volt depended heavily upon a subsidy too.  This new hybrid, a proper FULL design, won't. It will be targeting the appropriate audience too... those whom in the past provided profit for the business.

3-25-2015

Initial Thoughts.  This news is monumental.  I cannot stress that enough.  The benefits of a FULL hybrid have been discussed for 15 years.  Throughout that entire duration, there was resistance from GM.  It was maddening.  Finally, after years of the "stop gap" argument against them, GM finally changed their attitude.  They'd develop one, rolling out first a configuration for large vehicles, then later follow up with a mainstream car.  That didn't happen; instead, they decided to pursue Volt instead.  That effort fell apart... on a disastrous scale.  It was all about diversity.  I couldn't care less about what was offered as a specialty vehicle, as long as there was also something for the masses too.  Clean, Efficient, and Affordable... what a concept... one that GM obviously didn't have as a priority.  Thank goodness the first true signs of that changing have finally emerged.  Yeah!

3-25-2015

Wow!  Today, there was an unexpected announcement... one of great importance.  Out of the blue on a big Prius forum thread relevant to the topic, I posted:  Looks like GM has finally seen the light and will now be following the same path they heavily campaigned against for over a decade.  In other words, the large & expensive battery in a small car clearly isn't appealing to a wide audience.  That question of "Who?" has overwhelmingly been answered.  GM was losing a massive number of customers on the showroom floor and has finally taken a stance to properly address that.  All the nonsense, the rhetoric, the hype, the spin, and the propaganda has been confirmed as not the mainstream solution it was promised to be.  Many of us will feel quite vindicated as news of this spreads.  We were attacked on the premise this would never happen.  The belief that blending was a waste & futile path to follow is now being taken by the most outspoken of opponents.  Irony.  Isn't is great? :)

3-25-2015

Misleading Through Omission.  You gotta like this: "For an average American car (26 miles per gallon), the report estimates that air pollution emissions altogether cost us $1,700 in damages per year.  In comparison, emissions from energy to power an electric Nissan Leaf would cost us $840 even if purely powered by coal, and $290 if fueled by electricity supplied entirely from natural gas.  These costs would become negligible if the electricity came from renewable or nuclear power...."  It seems constructive.  The summary stated why EV is better than traditional vehicles.  That catch is, not all the information available was included.  I responded to the discussion thread about that with:  That's called misleading through omission.  Some would identify sighting only the extremes as cherry-picking.  Nothing in between is a red-flag, a warning of potential bias.  The plug-in Prius is considerably cleaner than the average American car, but that information is conveniently not mentioned.  Why wasn't it?  We've seen reports showing emission levels, but never anything with respect to supposed damage.  How is that actually quantified?  What criteria is taken into consideration?  Where is the detail?  In other words, don't take a single vague report at face value.  The real story is in the detail... or lack there of.

3-24-2015

Allowing Mistakes.  This comment today certainly got my attention: "Lets wait and see what they are like in the real world, how many are purchased for whatever reason."  It's among the first signs to look for when something starts goes wrong.  Recognition of purpose is vital.  You cannot just build a product and hope for the best.  Sadly, we have several good examples of rollouts going bad due to not matching market expectations.  I decided to respond with:  That's what caused problems with the first-generation offerings.  Rather than clearly identifying goals, then addressing them directly, that stance was taken.  Not being proactive welcomes trouble to come.  Allowing that same mistake to be repeated is even worse.

3-24-2015

Single-Mindedness.  This sure hit the nail squarely on the head: "Volt was designed to reduce gas consumption, not for fuel economy.  They are two very different things."  Electricity is a fuel too, not just gas.  Sending the message of guzzling all the electricity you want, just because you're not using gas, is wrong.  It's still waste, just of a different type.  We still have a lot of electricity generated from coal.  That's dirty.  The act of transmitted ends up consuming some as well.  Then of course, there's the conversion from AC to DC then back to AC again.  So, efficiency of the electric-propulsion system in the vehicle is important.  Some just plain don't care though.  That's sad.  I jumped into today's discussion with:  We need to remind people of the single-goal approach GM took.  The fact that Toyota chose to address several goals all at the same time... cost... emissions... cargo/passenger room... in addition to improved gas consumption... with the most efficient use of electricity included... is often overlooked.  Unfortunately, there's a past of outright dismissal too, in which we had to deal with "vastly superior" claims as a result.  That single-mindedness of MPG with no regard for other priorities is something new Volt supporters must now deal with.  Their predecessors set a terrible precedent that they have no choice but to address.

3-23-2015

RAV4 Hybrid, coming.  It's finally going to happen.  We knew someday that there would be a small AWD hybrid offered by Toyota here in the United States.  After all, Estima has been available in Japan for quite a few years now.  But minivans are low-demand here.  So, it didn't make sense to offer the same here, especially since that one was smaller than the minivans we see on select dealers lots.  Remember that neither Ford nor GM even offer minivans anymore.  So, targeting a small SUV makes a lot of sense.  We'll get detail soon.  With Earth Day a month away, pre-announcements like this are to be expected.  Details will be interesting.  How other automakers respond will be too.  Don't forget that Ford discontinued its small SUV hybrid.  The fact that Toyota will be offering one now makes you wonder.  It will obviously feature the latest & greatest design too.  Those improvements should appeal to many who still are not interested in purchasing a car.  We'll see.  2015 is definitely shaping up to be a noteworthy year in automotive history.

3-21-2015

2 Leafs.  That was cool.  As we were walking across the street today, 2 Leafs drove by... from opposite directions... crossing in the middle of the intersection... the only 2 vehicles.  It was perfectly timed.  Too bad events like that are incredibly rare still.  Sure, you can see that eventually with Prius.  But with plug-in vehicles, nope.  There simply aren't enough of them yet.  Someday, but not anytime soon.  There's many years to wait before seeing them sharing the same parking lot becomes common.  I know.  Patience.

3-21-2015

Europe vs. United States.  Very few know there's a PHV difference: "The PiP there has City mode rather than PWR mode.  City mode aggressively suppresses starting the ICE unless you really floor it.  This is to comply with zero-emission zones in many European cities.  Along with City mode comes the apparent lack of what is called in the US a *boost* mode where both the electric motor and the ICE are providing power at the same time."  I was happy to see that posted.  My response was:  That's a nice explanation.  Not being aware of Toyota delivering 2 different configurations of PiP has contributed to a variety of misunderstandings about what the system is actually capable of and intent of the first model.  Flexibility has always been the key.  In fact, that's why it was so easy to augment with increased battery-capacity.  Those who wish to undermine twist that to appear to be a desperate attempt to redesign a system to do something it was never intended.  We know that isn't the case.  Toyota has carefully considered mainstream need and avoided succumbing to hype.  Collecting extensive real-world data collection from Europe for CITY operation and from the United States for BOOST operation positions Toyota well for the next-gen model.  That will go a long way toward the ultimate goal of delivering a profitable configuration for the masses.

3-20-2015

The Best Choice.  It's really frustrating when an antagonist makes up history.  Most people assume what's being said is true, or at least close to what actually happened.  Sadly, it is not often the case now.  Those few who thrive on debate and get a thrill from dropping bait say things like this on a regular basis: "Speculation had the plug-in as a $3000 option to the regular model.  That may have been low, but Toyota was in a position to eat losses on the first gen in order to grow the market.  It is supposedly what they did with the Prius itself.  But they didn't, and were the last to drop the price when it happened across the market."  It's an endless battle having to deal with that.  Fortunately, I have the blogs to confirm that past.  They do not.  So, I usually post to draw attention away from them, rather than waste anymore time responding directly.  State the facts, summarize, and move on:  Being part of that history, I can tell you what actually happened.  Keep in mind who the market was then and will be later.  That makes a big difference.  Think of the big picture, the true competition.  First, speculation about plug-in was that the goal had been set for it to become a $3,000 to $5,000 option once the market had been established.  There was no expectation of the price being that low upon initial rollout.  Second, it made no sense eating losses when they were far from the only player entering the plug-in market.  Making a design profitable means staying true to mainstream purchase preferences and not depending heavily on large tax-credits.  Third, the approach with Prius was to limit availability and set a competitive price.  There was no tax-credit back then.  There was cheap gas, no concern for the environment, and a strong push for large guzzlers.  Finally, why not wait for the second-generation for the big rollout?  After all, that is what happened with Prius a decade back and we all know the cost of batteries has been steadily dropping now.  The rhetoric was absurd and Toyota's approach has been validated.  Look at the disaster Volt became, despite large tax-credits and a large price-drop.  It suffered huge losses and GM chose not to make the second-generation competitive; instead, the decision was to endorse EV... the very thing Volt was intended to make unnecessary.  Reality is, the true competition is absolutely crushing the plug-in vehicles.  The losses GM has suffered were about the money, it's the fact that Malibu, Cruze, and Equinox are the popular choices and Volt is just an interesting model.  It comes down to the decision consumers on the showroom floor make.  Toyota is well aware that Camry & Corolla must continue to sell in high-volume but is unwilling to sacrifice Prius in the process.  Take a look at the struggle Ford has had.  What about the delay for Nissan?  It's about making the best choice, not being first or last.

3-20-2015

EV Surprise.  Prius PHV is a plug-in hybrid.  So if the engine runs briefly, who cares.  The benefit of augmenting a regular hybrid with plug-supplied electricity is still achieved.  Super efficient HV driving is the goal, not EV driving.  Nonetheless, I was surprised to see that yesterday's stats for me revealed having traveled 30 miles from two recharges.  That 15 miles for each, without any effort to achieve that, was a tribute to the technology.  Clearly, my new commute to & from work isn't affected by all the rolling hills.  Who knows, now that it's Spring, perhaps I'll see an improvement over the commute from my old house.  The EV estimate has risen to 11.1 miles over the past few days.  Range was always less anyway, due to the temperatures well below freezing here, especially with all the trips back & forth during the move.  But there is definitely a curiosity about the operation after 3 years of ownership already.  I won't be able to measure the capacity retention anymore.  The new route ended my long run of consistency.  Oh well.  At least I'm still seeing really high MPG.

 

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